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Editorial: MU Internet failure should have been predicted, prevented

Aug. 26, 2011

Editorials represent the majority opinion of The Maneater editorial board.

Students flocked into classrooms and lecture halls Monday — possibly eager for classes to start but more probably eager to flip open their laptops and hop onto Facebook... ahem... Blackboard.

For most of us, neither was the case. MizzouWireless has been experiencing technical difficulties this first week of the new academic year, which for some of us, meant no wireless connection for hours at a time.

We understand that wireless connection is a luxury, even a privilege, but when we pay $146.40 in IT fees every semester, some form of wireless connection is expected. Between printing out required syllabi, downloading required readings on Blackboard and even the simple task of checking email, a MizzouWireless connection becomes a necessity for success in the classroom.

The Division of Information Technology seems to have the same wireless connection problems at the beginning of every academic year. Just as the number of students admitted to MU increase every year, the number of students that need to connect to the Internet increase as well.

In every building on campus, about 255 wireless connections are available to students. Conservation Hall can seat more than 400 students in a single lecture. The number of connections in one building should match the number of seats available in said building, at the very least. We’re not asking for an Internet connection at MU for every student, his iPhone, his iPod and his mother on campus in a single building, but the reality is more than 255 students are without doubt in one building at the same time.

There should be an available Internet connection for at least the number of seats available in a single building. For example, the MU Student Center hosts hundreds of students during the early afternoon. It’s a problem when students can’t connect to the Internet in the middle of the day.

With requirements such as the J school’s concerning iPods, iPhones and Macs, having Internet available shouldn’t even be a question. It should be expected that each student is going to have at least one device that requires a wireless Internet connection, and the university should provide.

We understand that these problems are somewhat unpredictable, but given that it happens every year, this is a situation in which being proactive is better than being reactive. Being proactive would prevent the inevitable bitching from students and faculty, such as this week (and trust us, we at The Maneater know a thing or two about being bitched at).

Granted we’re not technology-gurus and don’t know a lick of knowledge about what setting up a wireless network as large as MizzouWireless requires, but we do know that getting a problem solved before it actually becomes a problem is a good thing.

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Article comments

Aug. 28, 2011 at 9:49 p.m.

Aaron: I thank something that the wireless crashes, or at least strains to its limits when the semester starts. I would rather these growing pains happen now than before mid-terms and finals. Network crashes now allow for a good feel of classes so we know how much we can phone it in. If this were to happen later when everybody is crammed in to any space they can find a signal trying to drop their papers into blackboard and email while finding citations for papers that would be a disaster. I'm just happy I was able to grab my syllabi from blackboard without it crashing. That is the problems that worries me this first week. Blackboard is a webapp, scaling that should be easy, it doesn't involve buying much stuff other than software licenses. Wireless though is expensive. I would rather take a week of interruptions than pay triple the tech fee so we can account for the day that the student population triples in a few decades at which point the WiFi will be long outdated.

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